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What childcare options do I have in Zurich?

What childcare options do I have in Zurich?
There are dozens of childcare options in Zurich. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
From nurseries to private nannies, there are more than a dozen options for childcare in Zurich.

Childcare in Switzerland is notoriously expensive. 

While this of course varies dramatically from canton to canton, the average cost of a day of childcare in Switzerland is CHF130.

The average Swiss family spends a massive 41 percent of their net income on childcare, three times the OECD average of 13 percent.

Probably the most important factor underlying how much you spend on childcare is what kind or kinds of childcare you choose.

While most of us would think of a nursery or a creche as the standard, there are in fact several forms of childcare which are common in Switzerland.

This of course includes nurseries, but also extends to childminders (Tagesmütter or mamans de jour), babysitters, au pairs and private nannies.

Childminders, known as Tagesmütter or mamans de jour in German and French respectively, are good options for out of home care at an affordable price. Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

What are the differences between the types of childcare in Zurich?

Zurich, as Switzerland’s most populous canton, has a wide variety of options when it comes to childcare. 

The Zurich City Council has laid out some of the more common options, many of which you will have heard of – and some of which you may not know about. Here’s a list of possibilities in Zurich.

Each of these types differ in terms of the type of care provided and of course the cost. There are two broad types: in-home care and external care.

There are also specific and niche options, including for instance emergency care. 

In-home care

The most expensive is likely to be private nannies, which will cost between CHF3,500 and CHF5,000 per month, including mandatory pension contributions.

Having a nanny will provide your children with continuity and specialised care.

If you have a particularly demanding work schedule, a nanny is likely to be the most flexible option out there.

There are also other advantages with nannies, for instance helping your kids learn a specific language. A network of nannies can be found here

Another in-home option is a babysitter. Adult baby-sitters earn roughly CHF20 per hour, while teenage baby-sitters will be cheaper but might not be available during office hours. 

This is a flexible option and one which can suit unpredictable schedules. Babysitters will generally just provide basic care and will not educate the child (nor will they have skills as an educator in most cases).

If you are after the same type of care but a fair bit cheaper, then an au pair is a good option.

This is likely to be a lot cheaper and will cost somewhere around CHF1000 per month, considering the fact they live with you.

Au pairs are given a ‘pocket money’ payment every month which comes in at around 700 Swiss francs (€615) once extra babysitting duties are calculated in.

Au pairs are not allowed to work more than six hours per day or 30 hours per week under Swiss law, which can make things a bit more difficult if you have a busy work schedule.

READ MORE: The pros and cons of being an au pair in Switzerland

Care outside the home

Nurseries and creches are a popular option but they’re likely to be the most expensive after nannies.

These will cost an average of CHF130 per day.

This average figure though is Swiss-wide, meaning that the costs will under CHF100 in some cantons and over CHF150 in others.

In an average year, that will be around 2,700 per month.

This option provides a lot of flexibility, with most opening from 6am until later in the evening.

Your kids will also experience socialising and playing with other kids, which is important for all kinds of psychological and sociological reasons we don’t have time to get into here.

This is also another good option if you want your child to get extra linguistic support, i.e. by learning the Swiss language of the place you live in.

Another option is a licensed childminder. They work from their own home. They will feed and take care of relatively small groups of kids.

Licensed childminders will take care of your kids for between CHF1,000 and CHF2,000 per month, depending of course on the canton and other factors. The City of Zurich supervises childminders who work more than 20 hours per week. 

Information on how to find a childminder in Zurich is available here

Playgroups are also popular and are similar, although they are more focused on helping the child build social ties than as a means of childcare. Find out more here

If you are looking for something a little less regular and structured, Zurich’s Chinderhüeti offer similar services but on more of an ad hoc basis.

In effect, this is somewhere between a childminding service and a babysitter, focusing on occasional childcare needs. Information can be found here

Other options

Holiday and after school care is relatively common. More information is available here

One option which could suit some parents is reciprocal care, i.e. where you take care of other children for some part of the time and their parents occasionally look after yours. 

These arrangements are as flexible as you want them to be, provided of course you strike agreement with the reciprocal carers. 

If you are also looking to make connections, Chrabbelgruppe are groups where parents and children come together and “share experiences”. 

While more ad hoc, they allow parents to make connections while also allowing “the children come into contact with their peers, learn how to interact in a group setting and get used to other people and a new environment.”

Information on these groups in Zurich can be found here.

Mittagstisch (lunch table) is an option which offers children low cost meals and social development. Care is provided by qualified carers and groups tend to be small. 

This is frequently operated by the city council in the respective Swiss canton, such as in Zurich or Basel

If for some reason you need someone to take care of your kids at short notice, one option is emergency care

As Swiss people have a proud record of planning, this is not just if you forget to organise a childminder at short notice. 

Emergency care is reserved for sudden illness, accidents or even death and is used to “bridge the gap until the situation has calmed down”. 

Emergency care is offered by the Swiss Red Cross in Zurich and is also offered in other cantons such as Basel

While parents will be asked to make a financial contribution, the program is also funded by the Office for Youth and Careers Advice of the Canton of Zurich, the Social Department of the City of Zurich and the SRK Canton of Zurich.


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